While its audience may find Homeland’s plot twists and turns increasingly implausible, the award-winning drama is still sufficiently incendiary to damage relations between the US and Iran, according to a leading expert on the Middle East.
Fawaz Gerges, Emirates Chair of the Contemporary Middle East at the London School of Economics, told Hollywood news site The Wrap: “Homeland is poisonous to any attempt to bridge the divide between the two nations.”
The third series of the spy drama, which concluded on American screens on Sunday, focussed on a US plot to assassinate the chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and to install a CIA mole in his place.
“The portrayal of Iran and Iranians as terrorists, as violent, as scheming, really enforces Iranians’ images of the United States as a hostile nation, as a nation that cannot be trusted,” Gerges said. “It’s not only harmful and insidious, but it does basically create and really enforce hostilities between the people of the two nations.”
The Lebanese government is reportedly weighing the possibility of legal action against Homeland’s producers for the show’s skewed depiction of Beirut during its second series. Lebanon’s minister of tourism told the Associated Press that Homeland had misrepresented the city as a “hotbed of violence”.
Meanwhile, Venezuela has complained about the portrayal of Caracas in a recent episode, which featured a skyscraper-turned-slum known as the Tower of David.
Diplomatic relations between the US and Venezuela are strained, and neither country has had an ambassador in the other’s capital since 2010.
In a statement issued to Foreign Policy magazine, the Venezuelan government asked, “What reasons might there be for Venezuela to appear in a show so openly supported by President Obama, and backed by the CIA? Are they preparing the American people to feel justified in some aggression against our country…? Only time will tell.”
Of Homeland’s Iran-themed plot, Alexander Cary, a writer and executive producer of the show, recently told the Evening Standard: “In the first season we wrote about a terrorist hit on America and hoped we weren’t right. In the second, we wrote about whether or not Israel would bomb Iran, and we were still hoping we weren’t right.
"This third season we discussed changing the dynamic between Iran and the West, and we weren’t even hoping either way, because we thought it just wasn’t on the books.”